FNL: Trio To Play For Regional Championships

Three Ohio State verbal commits will be back in action this weekend in Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I regional championship action. Also in action is tight end Jeff Heuerman, who begins his playoff run in Florida with Naples Barron Collier.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs enter the regional championship rounds this weekend, and three future Buckeyes will be in action in Division I play. Toledo Whitmer defensive end Ken Hayes, Lakewood St. Edward offensive lineman Kyle Kalis and Huber Heights Wayne quarterback Braxton Miller will hope to keep their prep careers going with games on Saturday night.

Whitmer, the No. 3 seed in Region 2, faces fourth-seeded Toledo St. John's in a matchup pitting Toledo City League foes at Bowling Green University's Doyt Perry Stadium. The Panthers (11-1) earned their trip to the regional final with a 35-14 win against seventh-seeded Twinsburg. Running back Jody Webb rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and Hayes and the Whitmer defense made it a long night for the Tigers.

The Titans (11-1) defeated No. 8 Medina 24-6 in the semifinals. The St. John's Jesuit defense led the way to the win, limiting tailback Jason Suggs to 155 yards on 29 carries. More importantly, the Titans held Suggs out of the end zone. The Bees had previously upset top-seeded Canton McKinley and OSU commit Steve Miller in the first round of the playoffs a week earlier.

St. John's Jesuit was led offensively by running back Nate White, who rushed for 91 yards on 15 carries. Sophomore quarterback Brogan Roback completed 9 of 14 passes for 183 yards with two touchdowns.

Kalis and St. Edward ousted Cleveland Glenville in a Region 1 semifinal last weekend and will next face top-seeded Solon. The Eagles (12-0) smashed the Tarblooders 42-22 thanks to 28 unanswered points in the second half. St. Ed's running back Terrell Bates followed the blocking of Kalis and the rest of the offensive line and led all ball carriers with 135 yards on 19 carries.

St. Edward will face a stiff challenge against fellow unbeaten Solon at Parma Byers Field. The Comets (12-0) had little trouble in their regional semifinal, crushing Austintown Fitch 41-0. Solon scored early and often. In fact, the only time the Comets failed to score in the first half was when they lost a fumble.

Running back Kyle Hammonds will lead Solon's attack. He scored three touchdowns against the Falcons and finished with 141 yards on 21 carries.

Turning to the southwest portion of the state, Miller and upstart Wayne (9-3) will look to continue its postseason run with a Region 4 championship game against sixth-seeded Cincinnati St. Xavier.

Miller led Wayne to a 36-33 double-overtime win against No. 5 Centerville and defensive end Michael Bennett – also an OSU verbal commit – last week in the semifinals. Miller scored the game-winning points on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second OT and finished the game with 80 rushing yards to go with 14 of 23 passing for 223 yards and two touchdowns. The eighth-seeded Warriors did not know they would make the playoffs until after they had already finished their final regular season game but have made the most of their opportunity after wins over No. 1 Middletown and Centerville.

Wayne beat Centerville at Welcome Stadium in Dayton and the Warriors will play there again for their regional championship game against St. Xavier. The Bombers (7-4) beat third-seeded Cincinnati LaSalle 30-14 in the first round before edging No. 2 Cincinnati Colerain 24-23 last weekend. In the win against Colerain, St. X trailed 10-0 after the first quarter and was outgained 121 to minus-5. That changed in the second quarter, when the Bombers began a stretch of 10:35 during which they scored 24 unanswered points between the second and third quarters.

Quarterback Griffin Dolle led the Bombers' attack. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 63 yards and added 33 yards on the ground. Running back Conor Hundley added 83 yards on 21 carries.

While the playoff action in Ohio is in full swing, the Florida High School Athletic Association playoffs are just getting underway. Tight end Jeff Heuerman is the only Ohio State verbal commit whose team qualified for the postseason, and his Naples Barron Collier squad will play in a Class 3A regional quarterfinal Friday night at South Fort Myers.

Barron Collier (8-2) earned their postseason spot by finishing in the runner-up position in District 3A-12. The Cougars also come into the postseason with momentum following their regular-season ending victory over rival Naples Gulf Coast in the 13th annual Catfish Bowl game. Collier was led to that 28-7 victory by quarterback Julio Gomez, who rushed for 213 yards and threw for 79 more.

The Wolfpack (9-0) are led by senior quarterback/defensive back Dallas Crawford, who gave his verbal commitment to Michigan on Nov. 12. Crawford has thrown for 1,443 yards with 12 touchdowns and one interception this season He has also rushed for 289 yards and 10 additional scores.

The following players have concluded their season: Warren Ball (junior), RB, Columbus DeSales; Michael Bennett, DL, Centerville, Ohio; Brian Bobek, C, Palatine (Ill.) Fremd; Tommy Brown, OT, Akron Firestone; Chris Carter, OG, Cleveland John F. Kennedy; Jeremy Cash, S, Plantation, Fla.; Conner Crowell, LB, Waldorf (Md.) North Point; Bri'onte Dunn (junior), RB, Canton (Ohio) GlenOak; Chase Farris, DT, Elyria, Ohio; DerJuan Gambrell, CB, Toledo Rogers; Joel Hale, DT, Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove; Steve Miller, DE, Canton (Ohio) McKinley; Josh Perry (junior), OLB/RB, Lewis Center (Ohio) Olentangy; Devin Smith, WR, Massillon (Ohio) Washington; Evan Spencer, WR, Vernon Hills, Ill.; Ron Tanner, S/QB, Columbus Eastmoor; Antonio Underwood, OG, Shaker Heights, Ohio; Nick Vannett, TE/DE, Westerville (Ohio) Central .

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